This is no way a sponsored post! This is just one of those things I am passionate about. I am participating in #GrowSomething: It's A Social Media Takeover Why Social Media? Because it's powerful. The average Facebook user has 130 friends. If 500 of us message, we have a reach of 65,000 people. The average Twitter user has 126 followers. If 500 of us tweet, we can reach 63,000 more people. If they all retweet and share with their Facebook friends, we've reached 16 million people. We're two degrees away from 16 million people! That's better than Kevin Bacon! We have the power to make our voices heard! What do we want you to hear? We want to cultivate new gardeners. #GrowSomething is part of the Grow Initiative, designed to get the horticulture industry growing again. Plants are good for us, for our health, our spirits and our planet, but not everyone knows it. I have always been one to try to frequent the local family owned garden centers near me. The big box stores may have better prices but, my local garden centers have the knowledge of what grows best in our area and are able to guide me to the proper plants for more successful gardens. They provide classes and the professionals I can't get at the box hardware stores. It is no secret I love to garden. I'm not even sure love is a strong enough word! This time of year there is no where else I want to be than out in my gardens! Just this past weekend, even though it was raining off and on and oh so dreary out I was still out there, adding two Knockout rose bushes to my back garden. I have also put dad's birdhouses on posts and added them to the garden. Gardening, for me, is bringing beauty to my little world. I am always happy to share what works best for me. And, gardening is good for my health! "Gardening is a great way to maintain flexibility and tone muscles," says Melissa Roti, an assistant professor in the department of movement science, sport, and leisure studies at Westfield State College in Westfield, Massachusetts. Bending to pick flowers or reaching to prune a vine, for example, can help you stay limber. Digging, hoeing, and lifting build core body strength, which protects against back problems and helps prevent falls. The more you exert yourself, the greater the benefits. "Household and yard activities increase metabolic rate threefold to fivefold," says Steven Blair, a professor of exercise science at the University of South Carolina and coauthor of "Active Living Every Day" (Human Kinetics Publishers; 2001). That's enough to reduce blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels when a gardener works for at least 30 minutes five days a week. Tasks that are strenuous enough to leave a gardener feeling slightly winded, pushing a hand mower or raking, for example, will improve cardiovascular fitness. Gardening, like more traditional forms of exercise, has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease and help ward off type 2 (adult-onset) diabetes. Gardening helps to reduce stress too! There is no doubt that after a particularly hard day at work I can go home and spend a half hour attacking weeds, instead of a co-worker, I feel sooo much calmer! Gardening doesn't have to be expensive either. Most of my plants can be divided, giving me free plants to fill in bare spots. Even my garden decor is thrifty! All come from clearance racks, thrift stores, dollar stores, even, in the case of the cute red chair, found abandoned on the curb. It was a very fugly green and had a broken leg that one of Mr. B's buddies fixed with a spot weld. A can of bright red spray paint and she now offers me a place to sit and enjoy my flowers. Ultimately, what may be best about flexing a green thumb is that it's such a pleasure it hardly feels like exercise. "When the first good weather arrives, the biggest problem we see is people overdoing it," says Sandra Mason, a horticulture educator at the University of Illinois Extension in Champaign County. "Once people get started, they don't want to stop." (Raising my guilty hand to this!) Do you have a whole garden, a penchant for cut flowers or a single orchid on your windowsill? Then you, my friend, are a gardener. Anytime you touch something produced by Mother Earth you are contributing to the #GrowSomething movement. Now get out there and help us spread the word! Click here to see where I may be partying this week. Don't forget to come by on Tuesday's for the link party.